Search Statistics


This page (formerly called The Search Engine Index) lists articles from Search Engine Watch and around the web that providing interesting facts and statistics about search. Please note that before mid-2003, the style on this page was to list a key stat rather than a summary of a particular survey.

NOTE: Article links often change, especially the older an article is. In case of a bad link, use the publication’s search facility, which most have, and search for the headline. Also, some very old articles flagged “no longer online” might indeed be online — but the former URL no longer resolves, and it’s not worth the time investment for me to try and personally track down these down versus spending time producing new content.

Jump to articles and stats from:
Sept. 2004 Onward
Jan-Aug 20042003 & 2002
2001 & 20001999 & Earlier

Jan-Aug 2004

E-Biz [Search Engine” Satisfaction Improves, Lags
ClickZ, Aug. 24, 2004

Search engine satisfaction is up for the third year running, according to the latest figures from the American Consumer Satisfaction Index. Google also maintains its top ranking of several search engines named, 82 out of 100 total points that could be earned. The survey stupidly doesn’t include Yahoo in the search category as well as the portal category, so we’re stuck relying only on Yahoo’s “portal” score of 78 for a loose comparison. Ask Jeeves came behind Google at 71.

Marketers Say Search Is Not ‘Very Effective’
MediaPost, Aug. 9, 2004

MarketingSherpa’s 2004 Search Marketing Survey found that neither marketers or their agencies felt their search marketing efforts are “very effective.” But MarketingSherpa publisher and editor Anne Holland says this is in part to failures on their own tactics, rather than the medium. The report also gives the first estimate I’ve seen of SEO spending as opposed to paid ad spending — $200 million versus $3.3 billion. In other words, the entire search spending pie is estimated at $3.5 billion — and non-paid search marketing, SEO, gets about 6 percent of this. Information about buying the guide can be found here.

Web outshines catalogs, direct marketing and telemarketing, study says
Internet Retailer, Aug. 2, 2004

Nearly 100 million adults made purchases after searching for product information last year, nearly matching the number who purchased through catalogs, direct-mail ads and telemarketing calls combined, according to a Dieringer Research Group study.

New Data On How Paid Ranking Translates Into Traffic
The Search Engine Update, Aug. 1, 2004

A new study from Atlas DMT tries suggests that top rankings do indeed equal lots of clickthrough and traffic, at least in terms of paid listings.

The web search behavior of adult learners
Pandia, June 16, 2004

An EU study found few go past the first page of search results and that Google is popular due to its usability.

The “Real” Numbers Offer Clue to Google’s Huge Lead
Traffick, June 14, 2004

Andrew Goodman questions the statistics ratings services and others are pushing, finding Google may be stronger than reported.

Google Gains Overall, Competition Builds Niches
ClickZ, June 2, 2004

Latest stats from OneStat put Google with the largest global search share, 56 percent, followed by Yahoo at 21 percent, then MSN at 9 percent. Also has demographics about major search engines as provided by Hitwise. Google is slightly more “male” than MSN Search and slightly younger.

Inside the Searcher’s Mind: It’s a Jungle in Here!
SearchDay, May 26, 2004

What goes on in the mind of searchers? A research group set out to find the answers — and came up with some interesting and surprising answers.

Search Engine User Attitudes
SearchDay, May 25, 2004

With so much interest in search, it’s amazing how relatively little research has been done into how people interact with search engines, especially from a search marketing perspective. That’s finally changing.

Study Shows Paid Search Listings Are More Relevant To Women And The Unemployed
MediaPost, May 18, 2004

The latest release of an iProspect study of search interaction shows women were lightly more likely to choose a paid result as relevant than men. Those with full-time jobs are also more likely to click than part-time or unemployed searchers. College graduates are more likely to see editorial listings as relevant over paid.

Dragging Search Above the Line (by the Scruff of Its Neck)
ClickZ, May 17, 2004

Nearly half of those in a Jupiter Research survey said they had branding as a search campaign goal. Yet, only 20 percent said they measured any brand gains — compared to 70 percent who measure clicks. Gary Stein argues that more attention needs to be paid toward measuring the brand value of search.

Canadians search Web more
The Globe and Mail, May 13, 2004

Figures from comScore say Canadians seem to search slightly more often than Americans and that Google has a larger margin of popularity over rivals in Canada than in the United States.

Reality TV and online games
CBS MarketWatch, May 11, 2004

There’s a search tidbit buried in here — Google’s claim that it sends half the search traffic to gaming sites. You can also read more direct from Google. Of course, there’s a good chance that a majority of that traffic comes from Google’s unpaid listings, something the pitch to advertise on Google obviously doesn’t mention.

The One-Two Punch: SEO and PPC
ClickZ, May 3, 2004

Fredrick Marckini shares information out of a survey of search use that his company had conducted. Among the findings, 60 percent of clicks with to the free listings, the “natural,” “organic” or “editorial” results that aren’t sold. But on a per search engine basic, MSN was the lowest, getting only 29 percent of clicks to the editorial results. Google was the highest, at 72 percent. The message is that both free and paid should be considered together. I agree entirely. For more tips on getting the balance right, see this recent SearchDay article: Balancing Paid and Organic Search Listings. More about the survey of 1,649 people can also be found here.

Search Engine Users: Loyal or Blase?
SearchDay, Apr. 19, 2004

Searchers are loyal to their favorite search engine, and stubbornly stick with it even if they don’t initially find what they’re looking for, according to a new survey of web users.

Yahoo Changes Search Technology And Competitive Landscape
Wall Street Journal, April 8, 2004,,BT_CO_20040408_001715,00.html

Last month, I wrote how the switch at Yahoo to its own search technology didn’t appear to have cost it users. Here are more stats saying users haven’t noticed the switch. Also interesting speculation that Google was surprised by Yahoo’s quality. But index size as the most important fact? No, thank you. If anything, Google’s increasing index size has helped make some of its results worse, in my opinion. At some point, I’ll dive back in and explain this more. But the short answer is that as many have noticed, you increasingly seem to find links to other search engine result pages in Google.

Google Tops, But Yahoo Switch Success So Far
SearchDay, Apr. 5, 2004

New WebSideStory stats say Google’s most popular, but they also reveal that Yahoo’s recent replacement of Google results with its own technology doesn’t appear to have cost it visitors.

Europeans take a shine to Google
BBC, March 16, 2004

Google’s riding high in Europe, with 55 million Europeans using it (that’s probably per month, but the story doesn’t say). That’s twice the audience of MSN search and four times that of Yahoo.

Survey: Relevance Tops Brand for Searchers, Feb. 24, 2004

It’s the relevancy, stupid. Nielsen//NetRatings found in a December 2003 poll that 52 percent said “Can find relevant information” to be the most important factor for a search engine. “Can get credible results” was next at 34 percent, followed by “Get results quickly” at 33 percent. Just changing to imitate Google’s clean look isn’t enough. Only 18 percent said “Has an easy to use interface” is enough. You can find complete results here.

Search wars are about to get personal, Feb. 17, 2004

Data from comScore Media Metrix says that searchers aren’t particularly loyal to one search engine. But the data is really odd. The company calculated that the typical searcher searches 28 times in a month, then compared the average number of searches for each of the leading search engines: Google, 23, Yahoo and AOL, 16 and MSN, 11.

I guess the idea is that if everyone were loyal to Google, then it would have the highest average. The fact the others have some high numbers suggest they attract searches, as well.

There’s a far better way to do this. comScore can easily calculate the crossover — what percentage of people search at Google also search at Yahoo and so on. In fact, I’ve asked for this before, and I’ll follow up about it again. It would paint a far better picture than these stats.

Overall, the idea that people use more than one search engine isn’t surprising, new or necessarily shows “disloyalty.” Disloyalty happens when people start abandoning their first choice search engine in favor of their second choice. Make that flipflop, as Google managed to AltaVista, and you win.

Article goes on to talk about the idea of personalization as a way to lock users into a particular search engine. Yahoo says to expect something later this year.

Search engines rule UK supplier hunt
Netimperative, Feb. 11, 2004

Survey says: 69 percent of people seeking a supplier in the UK turn to a search engine. Nearly 40 percent say search is their first choice when seeking products and services.

Study Shows Web Searches Getting More Complex, Feb. 3, 2004

OneStat finds that two and three word queries are increasing, while those with one word are going down.

2003 & 2002

Online Sales Lead Methods Rival Offline in 2004, Dec. 15, 2003

Survey says: paid listings buys will rise from 49 percent of respondents saying they do this in 2003 to 58 percent next year, while organic search engine optimization will increase from 53 percent to 63 percent.

Business Users Search Engine Survey
WebAdvantage, Dec. 3, 2003

Survey of 475 business owners found that it’s practically 50/50 over whether someone knows if a listing is paid. The next question is flawed, asking what percentage of the time people click on sponsored links. If half those surveyed don’t know what a sponsored link is, then including this same group in the subsequent question (as apparently was done), means you’ve got answers from people who don’t know enough to answer at all. The same is true for another question on how often people find what they want with sponsored links.

Google far outdistances other search engines in a question on usage, and the vast majority say they’ll go past the first page of search results. That’s not just a remarkable stat. It goes so far against what we see with usual searcher behavior as to be suspect. I wonder if those on the survey mistook the idea of going past the first page to mean they’d look past the first page LISTED, rather than the first page of RESULTS.

Google bowls Yahoo a googly, Sept. 30, 2003

Google is the top search site in the UK, according to a new survey.

Consumers Rate Online Search, Portals, and News
MediaPost, Aug. 21, 2003

Google gets top ratings for consumer satisfaction in the search engines category, according to a study by the University of Michigan’s American Customer Satisfaction Index. Google rated 82 out of a total possible score of 100, followed by Ask Jeeves (69) and AltaVista (63). “All others” rated 78. Stupidly, search portals such as Yahoo weren’t included. Instead, they were segregated into a separate portals category, where Yahoo came in tops at 78, followed by MSN at 74 and 65 for AOL. So — Ask Jeeves could fairly say it’s the second best search engine in terms of satisfaction, but had portals been included in that category, it might be a much different story.

Effectiveness Study Confirms SEM Power
ClickZ, July 18, 2003

Research commissioned for the Internet Advertising Bureau’s search engine committee finds that conversion often happens weeks after the initial clickthrough from a search engine. Sponsored search results apparently generated what I assume is an average 18.3 percent clickthrough rate, compared to a 4.3 percent rate for free organic listings. The figures are surprising to me, and not having yet seen the actual report, I can’t comment further on the methodology used. Sponsored listings also were found to have a greater conversion rate, which isn’t surprising to me. With paid listings, you have the ability to deliver people to a very targeted landing page that can constantly be refined to improve conversion. You can’t do that well with organic listings.

Paid search listings will total $1.6 billion by the end of 2003, making up 25 percent of total online advertising spending. Two years ago, it made up only 10 percent of spending.
Jupiter Research, July 2003
Search Powers Online Ad Revival

How Marketers Are Measuring SEM Efforts
eMarketer, June 25, 2003

How are people tracking the success of search engine marketing campaigns? Most, 41 percent, say they track clickthrough or “general activity,” which I presume would be log analysis of site traffic and perhaps even rank checking. Then 31 percent say they do no measuring at all, followed by 16 percent that measure conversions and 11 percent who measure ROI.

Another stat shows that 35 percent are currently evaluating search engine marketing as part of their overall marketing mix (it’s unclear whether this is paid listings, organic listings or both). Then 23 percent say SEM is a significant part of their mix, while the same amount say they don’t do it at all. Finally, 18 percent say SEM is a small part of the mix. Stats are from a survey done by WebTrends and iProspect, across 800 marketers that participated in a web conference.

Search Research Comes of Age
ClickZ, May 2, 2003

Covers new search popularity figures released in April by comScore as well as data-mining that comScore is promising that can be applied for search engine marketing efforts. Also covers other major metrics providers, such as Nielsen//NetRatings, Alexa and StatMarket.

Yahoo Wages Losing Battle In Web Search Market
The Korea Times, April 18, 2003

The NHN portal is the most popular search tool in South Korea, followed by Yahoo and then Daum Communications, according to a recent survey.

13 percent of traffic to web sites came from search engines, up from 8 percent the year before.
StatMarket, Feb. 2003
Search Guiding More Web Activity

Two-thirds of the 25 top online retailers have poor site search capabilities, meaning that potential customers might miss out on what they are looking for.
37Signals, Feb. 2003
Majority of Online Stores Fail Search Engine Test

Readers of Interbrand’s named Google brand of the year for 2002. Out of 1,315 votes, Google received 15 percent, followed by second place Apple with 14 percent, Coca-Cola with 12 percent and Starbucks with 11 percent.
Interbrand, Feb. 2003
Google Named Brand of the Year

41 percent of those who went to a web site to research a product purchase got there via search engines, the top referral choice
DoubleClick, Dec. 2002
Search Engines’ Influence on Shopping

The main reason for using shopping search services was to compare prices quickly (73%), followed by wanting to compare products (54%) and to find stores selling the products (45%).
DealTime Survey, Dec. 2002
Shopping Search Engine Users

Search engines generate 7% to 8% of traffic to web sites.
StatMarket, Feb. 2002
Direct Navigation To Sites Rules, But Search Engines Remain Important

2001 & 2000

Paid submission to Yahoo and LookSmart and paid listings with GoTo are the most popular paid participation programs, each used by over 30 percent of webmasters surveyed.
CyberAtlas, August 2001
Surplus Of Search Engine Marketing Reports

97 percent of Fortune 100 companies had some type of site architecture problem that might give them problems being found by search engines.
iProspect, May 2001
Surplus Of Search Engine Marketing Reports

Nine out of ten web users visit a search engine, portal or community site each month. They also revisit frequently, nearly five times per month.
Nielsen//NetRatings, May 2001
Three Site Types Dominate Surfing Habits

Do Portals Still Matter to E-Commerce?
E-Commerce Times, March 23, 2001

Online shoppers now know that all journeys needn’t start at portals, yet portals still remain one of the top places where they’ll turn to for product purchasing.

Users looking for products are far more likely to type the product name into a search engine’s search box (28%) than browse shopping channels (5%) or click on ads (4%)
Jupiter Media Metrix & NPD, March 2001
Search Engine Marketing Finally Getting Respect

Searchers generally only visit the first three web sites listed in search results, and one out of five visits will last for a minute or less, based on an analysis of 450,000 queries run on AllTheWeb in a 24 hour period. More than half of all searchers will visit only one site in the top results and more than 80 percent will stop after visiting three. Only 19 percent will go to the second page of results and fewer than 10 percent go to the third page.
Penn State, February 2001
Impatient web searchers measure web sites’ appeal in seconds

Search engines are the top information resource Americans use when seeking answers, used 32 percent of the time, more than any other option.
Consumer Daily Question Study, Fall 2000
Internet Top Information Resource, Study Finds

Meta tags are the most popular search engine optimization technique, used by 61% of those surveyed, followed by optimizing page titles (44%) and link building (32%).
Iconocast, Nov. 2000
Iconocast Poll Sheds Light On Search Engine Optimization Issues

44% responding to an Iconocast survey cited search engine positioning as a promotional method used in the last twelve months. It was fourth behind email marketing (62%), offline branding (54%) and banner ads (53%).
Iconocast, Oct. 26, 2000
–no longer online–

Search engines are the top way consumers find new web sites online, used by 73.4% of those surveyed.
Forrester, October 2000
Driving Customers, Not Just Site Traffic

Marketers checking on search engine rankings generated half a million queries per day at Northern Light using position checking software — the numbers are probably similar or more for other major search engines.
I-Search #252, Sept. 2000
Northern Light Block

60 percent of web user sessions involve portals; 1/3 of these sessions involve searching, and portals generate 6 percent of a typical web site’s traffic.
Booz-Allen Hamilton, July/August 2000
Avoiding The Search Gap

The most popular portal feature is search, used in 49 percent of visits.
Booz-Allen Hamilton, July/August 2000
Avoiding The Search Gap

On average, Americans experience “search rage” if they don’t find what they want within 12 minutes.
WebTop, Aug 2000
WebTop Search Rage Study

Americans search the web practically every other day. Nearly 1/3 search once or more per day.
WebTop, Aug 2000
WebTop Search Rage Study

On average, Americans spend 1.5 hours per week searching for information.
WebTop, Aug 2000
WebTop Search Rage Study

4.6 Million People Can’t Find What They Need On The Net
WebTop/MORI, July 19, 2000
–no longer online —

A poll for search engine, conducted by research firm MORI, found that only 18 percent of those in Great Britain say they find what they are looking for on the web. Also, 67 percent said they are frustrated when searching for information. The survey was conducted in June, among 600 Internet users.

Search engines are the leading way users in the United Kingdom locate web sites. 81% said search engines helped them find sites. Following links was the next most popular method (59%).
Forrester Research, May 2000
In UK, Search Engines Are Top Method To Find Sites

Over 75 percent of web users use search engines to traverse the web.
RealNames, April 2000
Survey Reveals Search Habits

A survey of 18 major search engines found searchers more likely to find the official US presidential candidate web sites of Bill Bradley and John McCain than those of Al Gore and George W. Bush.
Search Engine Watch, Feb. 29, 2000
Can You Find Your Candidate?

57% of Internet users search the web each day, making search the second most popular Internet activity. 46% say they look for product info, making this the third most popular activity. Email is the most popular activity, with 81% checking each day.
SRI, Feb. 17, 2000
New Study Shows Internet Users Are Loyal to Web “Niches”

Nearly half use multiple keywords when searching, rather than a single keyword or other options
NPD, Jan-March 2000
NPD Search and Portal Site Study

Over 75 percent of people will try a different search on the same search engine if their first search fails, rather than try their original search at a different search engine.
NPD, Jan-March 2000
NPD Search and Portal Site Study

US search engine users find what they want when using search engines 81 percent of the time.
NPD, Jan-March 2000
NPD Search and Portal Site Study

1999 & Earlier

42% of those who bought from online retail sites arrived via search engines. Entering the URL directly was the most popular method (60%), followed by using bookmarks (48%).
NFO, Oct. 1999
NFO Online Retail Monitor

20 percent of all search queries conducted on AltaVista are product related.
AltaVista, Oct. 25, 1999
–press release no longer online–

1 in every 28 page views on the Web is a search results page (3.5 percent of all page views)
Alexa, June 1, 1999
–press release no longer online–

Internet users ranked search as their most important activity, awarding it a 9.1 on a 10-point scale. The next most important activity ranked only 6.3.
Jupiter Research, 1999
–press release no longer online–

The average work user spends 73 minutes per month at search engines, second only to 97 minutes at news, info and entertainment sites (Home users – NIE: 71 mins, adult sites: 65 mins, search engines: 54 mins)
Media Metrix, Feb. 1999
–press release no longer online–

People visit sites linked to a keyboard button 10 times more often than those they’ve bookmarked.
AltaVista, Feb. 22, 1999
–article no longer online–

84.8 percent of people use search engines to find new web sites
GVU, Oct-Dec. 1998
GVU Survey & Search Engines: Fall 1998

Almost 50 percent of online users turn to search sites for their online news needs.
Jupiter, Dec. 1998
–press release no longer online–

Excite Edges Out Others In USA Today Poll
The Search Engine Update, Aug. 4, 1998

Excite came out on top in a IntelliQuest survey conducted for USA Today.

56% of users learn about sites from search engines. (Other methods: Magazines, 38%, Newspapers, 36%, TV news, 26%)
NetSmart Research, July 1998
–press release no longer online–

Going Portal in Europe
NY Times, July 14, 1998

Discusses how old media is behind many of the top portal contenders in Europe, as opposed to new media companies that dominate them in the US. The Jupiter Communications-provided chart will please those who’ve been looking for stats about top search and navigation sites in Europe.

Search Engine Survey Provides Wealth of User Data
The Search Engine Update, Sept. 3, 1997

NPD released the results of a survey providing a range of interesting statistics about search engine users. The survey was conducted during Summer 1997 on AltaVista, Excite, Infoseek, Lycos, WebCrawler and Yahoo.

Search Engine Traffic Survey Results
The Search Engine Update, Aug. 5, 1997

NetGambit surveyed over 1,500 webmasters using its PositionAgent monitoring service about how much they depend on search engines for visitors

PC Meter Changes Name, To Resume Public Releases
Search Engine Report, Aug. 1997

PC Meter changes its name to Media Metrix, while also pledging to begin releasing data once again.

Battle of the ‘Nielsen of the Web’ Wannabes
Wired, May 27, 1997

71% of frequent web users most often use search engines to find web sites.
CommerceNet/Nielsen Study, April 1997
–press release no longer online–

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